Editor’s note: in conjunction with the 200th celebration of the establishment of Shelby County, the Sidney Daily News will be publishing a year long series about the county’s history.
BOTKINS — The Village of Botkins traces its beginnings back to the namesake and founder of the community, Richard Botkin. He was born in Hamilton County, Ohio, on Sept. 25, 1803, and moved to Shelby County with his family in 1832. He promptly secured a land grant, and after making the necessary improvements, lived and conducted his farming operation and stock dealing business upon the land until the time of his death on April 29, 1858.
A short time before his death, Botkin stated in his will that a town be platted out, and in July 1858 Russell Botkin directed the initial surveying and chartering of “Botkinsville” in honor and memory of Richard, his father. Formal incorporation followed Aug. 2, 1881.
In February 1883 Andrew Gutmann arrived from Freyburg to start a general supply business. In 1865 he built the Botkins Steam Grist Mill. He sold it 1870 and repurchased it in 1881. Besides providing local trade in flour and feed, he also bought grain of all kinds for shipment. His business was adjacent to the Dayton and Michigan RR line. Today Ryan, wife Audrey (Uetrecht) and their five children Grace, Wesley, Reid, Zane, and Anna are the fifth and sixth generations to live in the homestead.
After World War II, John’s sons John, Bill and Emerson, joined their father in the business. In 1973 they expanded the implement portion to a larger agricultural business along with a lawn and garden business. The sons were joined by the 3rd generation, Ray, Ken, Joann, Jack and Greg and continued to expand both areas of the business. Today, the still growing business is governed by 4th generation Aaron and Adam, along with Alex, Aric, Derick, Graham.
Steinke’s Inc. was started in 1905 by Bernard A. Steinke who was a blacksmith by trade. His business was in the building on Main Street (now State Street) which was the former Steinke Insurance Agency. “B. A.’s” son Clem purchased the business after his father’s death and added a car repair business, dropping the blacksmith business. In the 1940’s Clem’s son Bob bought the repair business and moved the garage to the corner of South and Main Street where the new village park is now located. He later purchased the land at the corner of State and Main Street and constructed a new building where the business is currently operating. Bob’s sons Ron and Dave purchased the business in 1978, and Ron bought out his brother Dave in 1991, becoming the sole owner. Steinke’s Marathon was under the ownership and management of Steve and Andy Steinke, the fifth generation. Currently Andy is the owner.
In October 1929, Walter Loy, a teacher in the Kettlersville area, was asked by a financial backer, farmer August Schnelling, to manage a grain facility. In 1934 they bought property in Botkins along the rail line from a Hemmert, present site of Hubbard Feeds, Inc. After World War II Richard Maurer and Bill Egbert bought out the Snelling interest. In 1951 Botkins Grain company purchased the brand name Provico Feeds Division of Kentucky Chemicals. The company became Botkins Provico Grain and Feed Company. Dick Maurer moved to Huntsville, Alabama, in 1961 expanding the business and returned two years later after Ralston-Purina bought the facility. Dick took reigns of the company until his death in 1968 when Warren Loy, son of Walter took over. In 1971, the company delved into fertilizer. In 1979, third generation Mike Loy was responsible for the business expansion of a unit train facility, filling RR grain cars. The Farm and Show business located in Botkins was bought by the business in the 80’s and managed by Bob Braun, son-in-law to Warren. From 1990-96 Galen Thompson was the president followed by Larry Hammond of Auglaize Farmers. In the 90’s the feed division was sold to Hubbard’s and in 1996 Auglaize Farmers bought out the grain/fertilizer business and all the branches. The Provico Farm and Supply section of the business operates today on 25A on the south end of the village. It is managed by 3rd generation Lee Braun and son Sam, fourth generation.
In 1936, LM Brown began Brown Welding Shop, as a part time business. In the late 30’s, as his business grew he purchased the building where Harrod Memorials is now located. Around 1945, LM purchased ground where Brown Industrial is currently located. His sons, Donald and Laverne joined in the business focusing on the production of truck bodies for the rendering recycling industry. Don’s son, Chris, began design work in the 80’s following the death of his father. In 1992 the Company took the name Brown Industrial to reflect a larger scope of manufacturing. In 2000 a laser cutter was purchased and thus began the metal fabrication market. Brother Craig joined the firm and the two began day-to-day operations in 2002. Today the fourth generation is working within the company.
The current site of the Trojans Den was originally built by Jim and Betty Kinninger around 1953. The parcel of land was purchased from Cy & Louise Sheets. A franchise business, Tastee-Freez, was the beginning business and then in the mid-sixties evolved into a diner known as Kinninger Restaurant while retaining the soft served ice cream. In 1991, the business was sold to Tom and Shirley Nuss, operating for several years. It later became a pizza parlor, known as Bubba’s Pizza and currently as Trojans Den.
In 1953 Schnippel Construction was founded by Gene Schnippel as a local general contracting firm, known as the local handyman. Son Tom came to work with his father and in 1970 the business became strictly commercial, industrial and factory. Tom’s son, Keith, joined in the business in 1997. In 2004 the company extended into millwright services. Tom’s daughter, Tracy, joined the company in 2011, another third-generation member. In 2013, Keith became president of the company. Currently, Jacob Cooper, has begun his studying within the business as part of the fourth generation.
The writer is the Botkins Historical Society treasurer.